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Experimental studies have reported on the anti-inflammatory properties of polyphenols. However, results from epidemiological investigations have been inconsistent and especially studies using biomarkers for assessment of polyphenol intake have been scant. We aimed to characterise the association between plasma concentrations of thirty-five polyphenol compounds and low-grade systemic inflammation state as measured by high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP). A cross-sectional data analysis was performed based on 315 participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort with available measurements of plasma polyphenols and hsCRP. In logistic regression analysis, the OR and 95 % CI of elevated serum hsCRP (>3 mg/l) were calculated within quartiles and per standard deviation higher level of plasma polyphenol concentrations. In a multivariable-adjusted model, the sum of plasma concentrations of all polyphenols measured (per standard deviation) was associated with 29 (95 % CI 50, 1) % lower odds of elevated hsCRP. In the class of flavonoids, daidzein was inversely associated with elevated hsCRP (OR 0·66, 95 % CI 0·46, 0·96). Among phenolic acids, statistically significant associations were observed for 3,5-dihydroxyphenylpropionic acid (OR 0·58, 95 % CI 0·39, 0·86), 3,4-dihydroxyphenylpropionic acid (OR 0·63, 95 % CI 0·46, 0·87), ferulic acid (OR 0·65, 95 % CI 0·44, 0·96) and caffeic acid (OR 0·69, 95 % CI 0·51, 0·93). The odds of elevated hsCRP were significantly reduced for hydroxytyrosol (OR 0·67, 95 % CI 0·48, 0·93). The present study showed that polyphenol biomarkers are associated with lower odds of elevated hsCRP. Whether diet rich in bioactive polyphenol compounds could be an effective strategy to prevent or modulate deleterious health effects of inflammation should be addressed by further well-powered longitudinal studies.
To examine timing of eating across ten European countries.
Cross-sectional analysis of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) calibration study using standardized 24 h diet recalls collected during 1995–2000. Eleven predefined food consumption occasions were assessed during the recall interview. We present time of consumption of meals and snacks as well as the later:earlier energy intake ratio, with earlier and later intakes defined as 06.00–14.00 and 15.00–24.00 hours, respectively. Type III tests were used to examine associations of sociodemographic, lifestyle and health variables with timing of energy intake.
Ten Western European countries.
In total, 22 985 women and 13 035 men aged 35–74 years (n 36 020).
A south–north gradient was observed for timing of eating, with later consumption of meals and snacks in Mediterranean countries compared with Central and Northern European countries. However, the energy load was reversed, with the later:earlier energy intake ratio ranging from 0·68 (France) to 1·39 (Norway) among women, and from 0·71 (Greece) to 1·35 (the Netherlands) among men. Among women, country, age, education, marital status, smoking, day of recall and season were all independently associated with timing of energy intake (all P<0·05). Among men, the corresponding variables were country, age, education, smoking, physical activity, BMI and day of recall (all P<0·05).
We found pronounced differences in timing of eating across Europe, with later meal timetables but greater energy load earlier during the day in Mediterranean countries compared with Central and Northern European countries.
Improvements in colorectal cancer (CRC) detection and treatment have led to greater numbers of CRC survivors, for whom there is limited evidence on which to provide dietary guidelines to improve survival outcomes. Higher intake of red and processed meat and lower intake of fibre are associated with greater risk of developing CRC, but there is limited evidence regarding associations with survival after CRC diagnosis. Among 3789 CRC cases in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort, pre-diagnostic consumption of red meat, processed meat, poultry and dietary fibre was examined in relation to CRC-specific mortality (n 1008) and all-cause mortality (n 1262) using multivariable Cox regression models, adjusted for CRC risk factors. Pre-diagnostic red meat, processed meat or fibre intakes (defined as quartiles and continuous grams per day) were not associated with CRC-specific or all-cause mortality among CRC survivors; however, a marginal trend across quartiles of processed meat in relation to CRC mortality was detected (P 0·053). Pre-diagnostic poultry intake was inversely associated with all-cause mortality among women (hazard ratio (HR)/20 g/d 0·92; 95 % CI 0·84, 1·00), but not among men (HR 1·00; 95 % CI 0·91, 1·09) (Pfor heterogeneity=0·10). Pre-diagnostic intake of red meat or fibre is not associated with CRC survival in the EPIC cohort. There is suggestive evidence of an association between poultry intake and all-cause mortality among female CRC survivors and between processed meat intake and CRC-specific mortality; however, further research using post-diagnostic dietary data is required to confirm this relationship.
Health-beneficial effects of adhering to a healthy Nordic diet index have been suggested. However, it has not been examined to what extent the included dietary components are exclusively related to the Nordic countries or if they are part of other European diets as well, suggesting a broader preventive potential. The present study describes the intake of seven a priori defined healthy food items (apples/pears, berries, cabbages, dark bread, shellfish, fish and root vegetables) across ten countries participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) and examines their consumption across Europe.
Cross-sectional study. A 24 h dietary recall was administered through a software program containing country-specific recipes. Sex-specific mean food intake was calculated for each centre/country, as well as percentage of overall food groups consumed as healthy Nordic food items. All analyses were weighted by day and season of data collection.
Multi-centre, European study.
Persons (n 36 970) aged 35–74 years, constituting a random sample of 519 978 EPIC participants.
The highest intakes of the included diet components were: cabbages and berries in Central Europe; apples/pears in Southern Europe; dark bread in Norway, Denmark and Greece; fish in Southern and Northern countries; shellfish in Spain; and root vegetables in Northern and Central Europe. Large inter-centre variation, however, existed in some countries.
Dark bread, root vegetables and fish are strongly related to a Nordic dietary tradition. Apples/pears, berries, cabbages, fish, shellfish and root vegetables are broadly consumed in Europe, and may thus be included in regional public health campaigns.
Whole-grain intake has been reported to be associated with a lower risk of several lifestyle-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, CVD and some types of cancers. As measurement errors in self-reported whole-grain intake assessments can be substantial, dietary biomarkers are relevant to be used as complementary tools for dietary intake assessment. Alkylresorcinols (AR) are phenolic lipids found almost exclusively in whole-grain wheat and rye products among the commonly consumed foods and are considered as valid biomarkers of the intake of these products. In the present study, we analysed the plasma concentrations of five AR homologues in 2845 participants from ten European countries from a nested case–control study in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. High concentrations of plasma total AR were found in participants from Scandinavia and Central Europe and lower concentrations in those from the Mediterranean countries. The geometric mean plasma total AR concentrations were between 35 and 41 nmol/l in samples drawn from fasting participants in the Central European and Scandinavian countries and below 23 nmol/l in those of participants from the Mediterranean countries. The whole-grain source (wheat or rye) could be determined using the ratio of two of the homologues. The main source was wheat in Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK, whereas rye was also consumed in considerable amounts in Germany, Denmark and Sweden. The present study demonstrates a considerable variation in the plasma concentrations of total AR and concentrations of AR homologues across ten European countries, reflecting both quantitative and qualitative differences in the intake of whole-grain wheat and rye.
Folate plays an important role in the synthesis and methylation of DNA as a cofactor in one-carbon metabolism. Inadequate folate intake has been linked to adverse health events. However, comparable information on dietary folate intake across European countries has never been reported. The objective of the present study was to describe the dietary folate intake and its food sources in ten countries in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. A cross-sectional analysis was conducted in 36 034 participants (aged 35–74 years) who completed a single 24 h dietary recall using a computerised interview software program, EPIC-Soft® (International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon). Dietary folate intake was estimated using the standardised EPIC Nutrient DataBase, adjusted for age, energy intake, weight and height and weighted by season and day of recall. Adjusted mean dietary folate intake in most centres ranged from 250 to 350 μg/d in men and 200 to 300 μg/d in women. Folate intake tended to be lower among current smokers and heavier alcohol drinkers and to increase with educational level, especially in women. Supplement users (any types) were likely to report higher dietary folate intake in most centres. Vegetables, cereals and fruits, nuts and seeds were the main contributors to folate intake. Nonetheless, the type and pattern of consumption of these main food items varied across the centres. These first comparisons of standardised dietary folate intakes across different European populations show moderate regional differences (except the UK health conscious group), and variation by sex, educational level, smoking and alcohol-drinking status, and supplement use.
Whether there are differences between countries in the validity of self-reported diet in relation to BMI, as evaluated using recovery biomarkers, is not well understood. We aimed to evaluate BMI-related reporting errors on 24 h dietary recalls (24-HDR) and on dietary questionnaires (DQ) using biomarkers for protein and K intake and whether the BMI effect differs between six European countries. Between 1995 and 1999, 1086 men and women participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition completed a single 24-HDR, a DQ and one 24 h urine collection. In regression analysis, controlling for age, sex, education and country, each unit (1 kg/m2) increase in BMI predicted an approximately 1·7 and 1·3 % increase in protein under-reporting on 24-HDR and DQ, respectively (both P < 0·0001). Exclusion of individuals who probably misreported energy intake attenuated BMI-related bias on both instruments. The BMI effect on protein under-reporting did not differ for men and women and neither between countries on both instruments as tested by interaction (all P>0·15). In women, but not in men, the DQ yielded higher mean intakes of protein that were closer to the biomarker-based measurements across BMI groups when compared with 24-HDR. Results for K were similar to those of protein, although BMI-related under-reporting of K was of a smaller magnitude, suggesting differential misreporting of foods. Under-reporting of protein and K appears to be predicted by BMI, but this effect may be driven by ‘low-energy reporters’. The BMI effect on under-reporting seems to be the same across countries.
Anthocyanidins are bioactive flavonoids with potential health-promoting effects. These may vary among single anthocyanidins considering differences in their bioavailability and some of the mechanisms involved. The aim of the present study was to estimate the dietary intake of anthocyanidins, their food sources and the lifestyle factors (sex, age, BMI, smoking status, educational level and physisical activity) involved among twenty-seven centres in ten European countries participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Anthocyanidin intake and their food sources for 36 037 subjects, aged between 35 and 74 years, in twenty-seven redefined centres were obtained using standardised 24 h dietary recall software (EPIC-SOFT). An ad hoc food composition database on anthocyanidins (cyanidin, delphinidin, malvidin, pelargonidin, peonidin, petunidin) was compiled using data from the US Department of Agriculture and Phenol-Explorer databases and was expanded by adding recipes, estimated values and cooking factors. For men, the total anthocyanidin mean intake ranged from 19·83 (se 1·53) mg/d (Bilthoven, The Netherlands) to 64·88 (se 1·86) mg/d (Turin, Italy), whereas for women the range was 18·73 (se 2·80) mg/d (Granada, Spain) to 44·08 (se 2·45) mg/d (Turin, Italy). A clear south to north gradient intake was observed. Cyanidins and malvidins were the main anthocynidin contributors depending on the region and sex. Anthocyanidin intake was higher in non-obese older females, non-smokers, and increased with educational level and physical activity. The major food sources were fruits, wine, non-alcoholic beverages and some vegetables. The present study shows differences in both total and individual anthocyanidin intakes and various lifestyle factors throughout Europe, with some geographical variability in their food sources.
Tree nuts, peanuts and seeds are nutrient dense foods whose intake has been shown to be associated with reduced risk of some chronic diseases. They are regularly consumed in European diets either as whole, in spreads or from hidden sources (e.g. commercial products). However, little is known about their intake profiles or differences in consumption between European countries or geographic regions. The objective of this study was to analyse the population mean intake and average portion sizes in subjects reporting intake of nuts and seeds consumed as whole, derived from hidden sources or from spreads. Data was obtained from standardised 24-hour dietary recalls collected from 36 994 subjects in 10 different countries that are part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Overall, for nuts and seeds consumed as whole, the percentage of subjects reporting intake on the day of the recall was: tree nuts = 4·4%, peanuts = 2·3% and seeds = 1·3%. The data show a clear northern (Sweden: mean intake = 0·15 g/d, average portion size = 15·1 g/d) to southern (Spain: mean intake = 2·99 g/d, average portion size = 34·7 g/d) European gradient of whole tree nut intake. The three most popular tree nuts were walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, respectively. In general, tree nuts were more widely consumed than peanuts or seeds. In subjects reporting intake, men consumed a significantly higher average portion size of tree nuts (28·5 v. 23·1 g/d, P<0·01) and peanuts (46·1 v. 35·1 g/d, P<0·01) per day than women. These data may be useful in devising research initiatives and health policy strategies based on the intake of this food group.
Overall dietary patterns have been associated with health and longevity. We used principal component (PC) and cluster analyses to identify the prevailing dietary patterns of 99 744 participants, aged 60 years or older, living in nine European countries and participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Elderly cohort) and to examine their socio-demographic and lifestyle correlates. Two PC were identified: PC1 reflects a ‘vegetable-based’ diet with an emphasis on foods of plant origin, rice, pasta and other grain rather than on margarine, potatoes and non-alcoholic beverages. PC2 indicates a ‘sweet- and fat-dominated’ diet with a preference for sweets, added fat and dairy products but not meat, alcohol, bread and eggs. PC1 was associated with a younger age, a higher level of education, physical activity, a higher BMI, a lower waist:hip ratio and never and past smoking. PC2 was associated with older age, less education, never having smoked, a lower BMI and waist:hip ratio and lower levels of physical activity. Elderly individuals in southern Europe scored positively on PC1 and about zero on PC2, whereas the elderly in northern Europe scored negatively on PC1 and variably on PC2. The results of cluster analysis were compatible with the indicated dietary patterns. ‘Vegetable-based’ and a ‘sweet- and fat-dominated’ diets are prevalent among the elderly across Europe, and there is a north–south gradient regarding their dietary choices. Our study contributes to the identification of groups of elderly who are likely to have different prospects for long-term disease occurrence and survival.
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